The innovations generated by social labs flow from at least four sets of outputs: physical capital (new services or infrastructure), human capital (new capacities and skills), social capital (increased trust and collaboration), and intellectual capital (new knowledge and learning). These forms of capital, if produced in sufficient amounts, can change complex social systems. For an analogy, think of a research lab that produces multiple outputs, such as new drugs or surgical techniques. These increase the probability that patients will survive.
Why this lab?
What do we expect from this lab?
Find out all our answers in the Co-Creators section
Social labs have three defining features:
- Social – they bring together a diversity of stakeholders who are affected, directly or indirectly, by the challenge at hand;
- Experimental – it uses methodologies that drive innovation through learning-by-doing, trial-and-error & iterative processes;
- Systemic – it aims to address the root causes of problems rather than providing solutions to symptoms.
Hassan, Z. (2014). The Social Labs Revolution. Brussels: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
We thus expect to step outside our comfort zone to try a new way of being and approaching problems. Also, to build relationships and collaborate with people vastly different than ourselves, and prototype together solutions linked to water, plastic and electronic waste for a specific sector of the Vaud economy. Through our cross-sectoral leadership approach, solutions will be carried forward and involve wider public participation. Our aim is systemic change.
Find out more about System Leadership here.
A prototype in itself, this social laboratory is a first attempt at addressing the deep disconnects that lay the root of unsustainable consumer behaviour. An unusual response to complex challenges, we propose to work on enhancing the human factor, to radically reassess our way of being before to even think about designing solutions. Read more in: Why A Social Lab?
While we cannot predict the results of this process with exactitude, such processes regenerate different types of capital that are necessary for circular economy transformation, including natural, social and financial.
I think it’s very positive to implement activities focused on human development in order to address very real problems. In an academic or scientific context, we value rational-individual thought above emotional and collective aspects. The Beyond Waste exercise is very audacious and at the same time organic. You are introducing humanity into a problem-solving context. Many of us engineers are completely new to this and you are helping us to learn how to walk in this new environment. It’s like a complete rewiring of our brains. I also really like the feminine leadership present here.